The top flight's biggest fixture this weekend is left to last but the build-up begins here. Club historian Rick Glanvill and club statistician Paul Dutton assess our team's chances of closing the small gap above…
TALKING POINTSWelcome back to the 21st Century for this clash of the Premier League's titans. Wednesday's disappointing home draw with the Hammers, along with the timing of fixtures over this weekend, heap more pressure on both Blues hues to make good in this catch-up clash.
Second-placed Arsenal can ease back above Manchester City and pull five points away from Chelsea should they beat Crystal Palace at home on Sunday, as expected. Liverpool, who travel to struggling West Brom the same day, could pull back to one point behind Jose Mourinho's side. Next weekend, though, Arsenal play Liverpool at Anfield (without the banned Mathieu Flamini).
A win for Chelsea on Monday would bring points parity with the favourites for the title. Historically Monday is not the Blues' most successful day of the week. This will be our 295th since the 1905/06 season and we have won 40 per cent, drawn 28 per cent and lost 32 per cent. (Since you ask, Thursday is our favourite with a win percentage of 55.)
Both Monday matches so far this season, at Old Trafford and the Emirates, ended 0-0.The previous one was the 1-0 FA Cup replay victory over Man United in April 2013.
KEY STATChelsea have the tightest defence in the Barclays Premier League, conceding only 20 goals in 23 games, including nine clean sheets.
This is, of course, the first of two Etihad clashes separated by 13 days, the second coming in the FA Cup on Saturday 15 February. City's calendar around that date is complicated: they host Barcelona in the first leg of the Champions League the following Tuesday.
The Round of 16 is staggered, so Chelsea's meetings with Galatasaray are the week after the City-Barça games - we currently have a free week following the FA Cup match.
This will be the seventh time Pellegrini and Mourinho have crossed swords. When they met in the Primera between 2011 and 2013, Real trumped Malaga in three of the five games. One was drawn, as was their only meeting on English soil.
At the end of that game at the Bridge, Manuel Pellegrini was so wound up by Fernando Torres's last-minute winner (pictured below) that he refused to shake Jose Mourinho's hand.
City have regularly announced they believe they can win an unprecedented quadruple and, as Mourinho has said, they seemingly have the squad to do so. Yet Pellegrini has not taken a team over the line to win any silverware in 10 years - one of them spent at Real Madrid. The temperament of the 60-year-old Chilean will come under increasing scrutiny as the latter stages of these competitions approach.
Last season gave an indication of how he might react. After his Malaga side were edged out of the Champions League semi-finals by a late brace from Borussia Dortmund, Pellegrini blamed dark forces for the result. 'It was difficult for a banned team to reach the semi-finals,' he said, referring to Malaga's suspension from the following season's UEFA competitions over non-payment of fees.
Never the less the Citizens again took maximum advantage from good fortune this season. The penalty against Spurs, Danny Rose's red card (now rescinded), plus the poor offside call after Michael Dawson put the ball in the net are the kinds of decisions that are not currently going Chelsea's way. Look no further than the opaque decision to rule out Samuel Eto'o's Artful Dodger-esque goal against the '19 Century' Irons for evidence of that.
However, Man City did lose key man Sergio Aguero to a hamstring injury at White Hart Lane that may keep him out of our showdown, while Alvaro Negredo appeared to damage his shoulder in the Capital One Cup win at West Ham.
Up to now Pellegrini's side have also looked favourites to top Chelsea's Premier League goalscoring record of 103 from the 2009/10 Double season. Following Wednesday's action, Tottenham have generously donated 11 to their tally of 68 from 23 matches. We averaged 2.71 strikes per game; City are currently notching up 2.96.
Chelsea managed the highest number of shots on goal without scoring since 2003/04 and, on top of the profligacy against Stoke in the Cup, thatr presents a headache for Mourinho. At least the Pensioners are stacking up clean sheets. There have been seven since the loss at Sunderland.
Top Premier League Clean SheetsArsenal 10West Ham 10Chelsea 9Everton 9Tottenham 9Man City 8Norwich 8Southampton 8
Man City are unbeaten in 20 games in all competitions (18 wins, 2 draws) scoring 64 goals and conceding 21.
Oscar's strike last weekend against Stoke was the seventh goal we have scored direct from a free kick since the beginning of last season.
The other six are: Frank Lampard v Hull (h) Aug 2013, David Luiz against Basel (Europa League a) Apr 2013, Aston Villa (h) Dec 2012 and Nordsjaelland (Champions League a) Oct 2012 and two from Juan Mata against Man Utd (PL h) Oct 2012 and Arsenal (a) Sep 2012. (Thanks to Chelsea TV's Neil Barnett for help compiling this.)
Top seven mini-league * Top Pld Gd Pts 1 Man City 7 +18 18 2 Chelsea 7 +3 12 3 Liverpool 7 +6 10 4 Everton 7 -4 9 5 Arsenal 6 +2 7 6 Tottenham 8 -15 6 7 Man Utd 8 -7 5*Points won from games between the teams in the current top seven
Barclays Premier League fixtures SaturdayNewcastle v Sunderland 12.45pmWest Ham v Swansea 12.45pm - BT SportCardiff v Norwich 3pmEverton v Aston Villa 3pmFulham v Southampton 3pmHull v Tottenham 3pmStoke v Manchester United 3pmSundayWest Brom v Liverpool 1.30pm - Sky SportsArsenal v Crystal Palace 4pm - Sky SportsMondayManchester City v Chelsea 8pm - Sky Sports
Barclays Premier League table - top eight Pld Gd Pts 1 Man City 23 +42 53 2 Arsenal 23 +24 52 3 Chelsea 23 +23 50 4 Liverpool 23 +29 46 5 Tottenham 22 +3 43 6 Everton 23 +11 42 7 Man United 23 +11 40 8 Newcastle 23 +4 37
CHELSEA STATSSince the November international break, the Blues have won 29 points from a possible 36. Only Man City with 34 have won more in the same period.
Chelsea have gained 14 points from losing positions this season, still the best record in the Barclays Premier League.
The Blues have won 11 of the 13 league games we have opened the scoring.
We are six points up compared to the corresponding 23 fixtures last season.
Chelsea have kept seven clean sheets and conceded just two goals in our last nine league and cup matches.
We have won 18 points from a possible 33 away from Stamford Bridge this term.
Last six results Jan 1 Southampton (a) W 3-0 Jan 5 Derby (FA Cup a) W 2-0 Jan 11 Hull (a) W 2-0 Jan 19 Manchester United (h) W 3-1 Jan 26 Stoke (FA Cup h) W 1-0 Jan 29 West Ham (h) D 0-0
Premier League scorers (43)Hazard 9 (1 pen), Eto'o 6, Oscar 6, Lampard 4 (1 pen), Torres 4, Schurrle 3, Terry 2, Willian 2, own goals 2, Ba 1, Cahill 1, Ivanovic 1, Mikel 1, Ramires 1.
League games since An away win: 0An away draw: 2An away defeat: 3
Chelsea's next three games Sat 8 Feb Newcastle home 3pm Tue 11 Feb West Brom away 7.45pm Sat 15 Feb Man City (FA Cup 5th round) away 5.15pm
MILESTONESIf selected John Mikel Obi will make his 200th Premier League appearance and Gary Cahill his 50th Premier League start for the club.
Frank Lampard's next converted penalty will be his 50th for the Blues.
Frank's next goal will be the 250th in his club career (Chelsea 209, West Ham 39, Swansea 1).
MAN CITY STATSFormed 1880
Major trophies3 League championships, last in 20125 FA Cups, last in 20111 European Cup Winners' Cup in 19702 League Cups, last in 19764 FA Charity/Community Shields, last in 2012
Manchester City have won all 11 home Premier League games this season scoring 42 goals and conceding eight.
In all competitions they have scored 72 goals at the Etihad in 18 matches, an average of four per match. The only game they didn't win was against Bayern Munich in the Champions League in October.
Man City have scored three or more goals on 14 occasions at home this term:-7 Norwich6 Tottenham, Arsenal, West Ham (LC)5 Wigan (LC), CSKA Moscow (CL), Blackburn (FAC), 4 Newcastle, Man Utd, Viktoria Plzen (CL), Cardiff, Watford (FAC)3 Everton, Swansea2 Hull, Liverpool1 Bayern Munich (CL), Crystal Palace
City's last defeat was at Sunderland on 10 November when they lost 0-1. They have won 11 and drawn one (at Southampton) in the Premier League since then.
Manchester City have scored at least one goal in their last 61 home Premier League games stretching back over three years. Birmingham were the last team to complete a shut-out in November 2010 when they achieved a goalless draw.
Manager Manuel PellegriniDays in charge: 234Played 37Won 29Drawn 3Lost 5
Man City's last 10 year league history Pts Pos 2003/04 41 16th 2004/05 52 8th 2005/06 43 15th 2006/07 42 14th 2007/08 55 9th 2008/09 50 10th 2009/10 67 5th 2010/11 71 3rd 2011/12 89 1st 2012/13 78 2nd
Last six results Jan 12 Newcastle (a) W 2-0 Jan 15 Blackburn (FA Cup h) W 5-0 Jan 18 Cardiff (h) W 4-2 Jan 21 West Ham (League Cup a) W 3-0 Jan 25 Watford (FA Cup h) W 4-2 Jan 29 Tottenham (a) W 5-1
Premier League scorers (68)Aguero 15, Toure 12 (3 pens), Negredo 9, Dzeko 7, Nasri 4, Navas 4, Silva 4, own goals 4, Fernandinho 3, Kompany 3, Jovetic 1, Kolarov 1, Milner 1.
League games sinceA home win: 0A home draw: 17A home defeat: 11
WINDOW WATCHCompleted January transfers ChelseaIns Bertrand Traore (Bobo-Dioulasso, undisclosed), Nemanja Matic (Benfica, undisclosed), Mohamed Salah (Basel, undisclosed), Kurt Zouma (St-Etienne).Outs Juan Mata (Man Utd, undisclosed), Kevin De Bruyne (Wolfsburg, undisclosed), Sam Walker (Colchester, undisclosed), Ryan Bertrand (Aston Villa, loan), Bertrand Traore (Vitesse Arnhem, loan), Patrick Bamford (Derby, loan), Kenneth Omeruo (Middlesbrough, loan), Nathaniel Chalobah (Middlesbrough, loan), Josh McEachran (Wigan, loan), Michael Essien (AC Milan, free), Jon Muleba (Bournemouth), Billy Clifford (Royal Antwerp, loan), Matej Delac (FK Sarajevo, loan), Kurt Zouma (St-Etienne, loan), Gael Kakuta (Lazio, loan).CityIns NoneOuts John Guidetti (Stoke City, loan), Harry Bunn (Huddersfield Town, undisclosed), Albert Rusnak (Birmingham City, loan), Abdisalam Ibrahim (released), Emyr Huws (Birmingham, loan)
THE MAN IN THE MIDDLEMike Dean is officiating his third Chelsea match this term. He was the referee for our 1-1 draw at Tottenham in September and the goalless draw at Arsenal just before Christmas.
OTHERWISE ENGAGEDThere are no suspensions.
Visit again on Monday for Part Two of the Briefing.